|System: X360, PS3, Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Etranges Libellules||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 23, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Generally, before I sit down with a game based on a movie, I like to watch the movie first, just so I know what to expect from the game's storyline. Although I'm sure many others like watching the movie before playing a licensed game, with How to Train your Dragon, it is a requirement, not a suggestion. The game picks up at the end of the movie, and unless you have seen the movie already (or don't mind giant spoilers), I suggest you stop reading now and go watch the movie if you have any interest in the game. Seriously. Last warning. We good? OK.
How to Train Your Dragon begins right after the events of the movie. Everyone has accepted dragons into the Viking community, and training dragons to fight has become the newest hobby of all the young Vikings in the community. You can play as either the main character Hiccup or rival/love interest Astrid. Interestingly, if you play as Hiccup, it seems your leg has grown back, which is completely inconsistent with the movie, where Hiccup ends up as an amputee.
But, inconsistencies aside, there really isn't much to the story in How to Train your Dragon. Hiccup and his father have moved past their issues, and beyond rivalries with other young Vikings, there really isn't that much going on here story-wise. The game gives you dragons, a coliseum, and plenty of areas to explore, and you'll have to just go through the motions to become the best dragon trainer in the village. In this way, How to Train Your Dragon is a lot like the Pokémon series: become the best, story over.
Another way How to Train Your Dragon is like Pokémon is the main arena-style battle mechanic. The game follows a set pattern of running errands, collecting items, going to a training cave to level up your dragon, and then entering a dragon battle competition. Though there are side-quests you can take on, and leveling each dragon's attributes can take several forms, but on the whole, the game has a very linear structure. You can't even level your character out of turn, as the game places a limit on the amount of leveling exercises you can do at a time before you must enter the competition arena.
However, this game's linear structure isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the intended audience for How to Train your Dragon is quite young. The game lends itself perfectly to the pre-teen crowd, and it has just enough customization options to be fun without being too complex. The game also has a very helpful menu system that lets you know what is in your inventory, what level your dragons are on, and what your current mission is.
The battle system in How to Train Your Dragon is also very simple and should appeal to younger players. There are three main attacks: weak, strong, and fire. The strong and weak attacks can be performed by pressing the A button on the Wii-mote and giving it a short swing upwards. The fire attacks are performed by pressing the Z button on the Nunchuck. All of the attacks can be chained together to produce simple four-button combos. Although only a handful of these combos will be available at the beginning of the game, as your dragon's level increases you will be able to unlock more.